Rabalais: LSU gets early score on scheduling, but has long way to go

Some national radio talk show host with too many hours to fill and too little to say took LSU coach Les Miles to task Saturday for wanting to take permanent opponents out of the Southeastern Conference football schedule formula.

The talking head said Miles sounded cowardly by not wanting to play Florida every year.

Hello? Did you see the pictures of Miles hanging his $4.3 million per year patootie off the side of one of Baton Rouge’s tallest buildings Thursday?

Anyone willing to do that — outrageous as it might seem to the rest of us — is not afraid of playing Florida every year. Or anyone else.

LSU doesn’t want to do away with permanent opponents out of fear. LSU wants to do away with permanent opponents because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s right for everyone in the SEC to play each other within a reasonable time frame, say every three to four years. Every six years, which is how often LSU would play everyone in the SEC East besides Florida under the current 6-1-1 schedule format, isn’t right by any means. Neither is LSU having to play Florida and Georgia this year, two legitimate SEC East contenders, while Alabama gets Tennessee and Kentucky, who will be fighting for space on the SEC East cellar floor.

Of course, there is wanting and there is getting. For LSU, getting the conference to change its football scheduling format going into this year’s SEC Spring Meeting seemed about as likely as getting the folks in Destin, Fla., to pave asphalt over their sugar sand beaches.

That was before the SEC presidents and chancellors got together in Destin on Friday and decided the argument from Miles and LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva had some merit.

Though no official vote was taken, the SEC’s execs commissioned the conference office to examine all possible scheduling formats: 6-1-1 and 6-2 in keeping an eight-game schedule, 6-2-1, 6-3 and the like if the SEC eventually switches to a nine-game slate. The SEC will move forward with the 6-1-1 schedule format for now, just like in 2012 and 2013, but with an eye to deciding on a long-term plan in time for the 2016 season.

Much ado about nothing it might be said, except for the fact the SEC did vote 11-3 at last year’s spring meeting to adopt the 6-1-1 format, with only LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina in dissent. For conference members to agree to revisit the scheduling issue, or attempt to unravel the knot at the end of the rope to borrow a term from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, is an early touchdown if not final victory for the LSU position.

Alleva said the decision to consider alternate schedules is an indication of how people in the SEC agree with LSU but have voted in their own best interests. That may be true, but it’s still an indication how the playing field is tilted against eliminating permanent opponents.

Still, for LSU, it’s a start on a highly contentious subject that seemed like a nonstarter a week ago.

But no time for the faint of heart now.